Week 3: Objects and their lives

My project idea for what I want to produce this semester in Wearables has changed yet again. I knew from the get-go that I wanted to do something with movement, which has stemmed from my belief that people learn more effectively through movements. As a teacher I would always warm my students up by teaching them the “Electric Slide”. Many think this a joke of some kind, or even something fun I would do with my students, but really, it was a critical component of how I structured my classes and each lesson. Through ITP, I am exploring how to design things that make people move more, while engaging them in an experience.

Accessible and private are two words I use to describe a lot of my ideas and projects. This is a key reason why I want to explore wearable technology. I want to create a wearable that is accessible for anyone, but also provides a private experience, and can be smoothly integrated into everyday life.

Lindsey and I will be working together for this project. Our goal is to make a wearable shirt that encourages and gives feedback of movements.

The shirt will have sensors, likely fabric bend sensors in the shoulders of the shirt that are mapped to sounds via BLE to a mobile phone.

Below is a sketch of the type of movements that a user could do to produce sounds.

FullSizeRender 24


With this wearable, we will be exploring how to encourage people to move with the pleasurable feedback of sound. This will in turn help users become more aware of their bodies and body movements.


People who are interested in understanding their body movements. This is an everyday wearable, meaning that we are not making this as a performance component. A person can wear this shirt in their own time to receive feedback that can be private or shared.


A shirt with bend/flex sensors woven into the shoulders that sends data to a mobile device BLE.


We’re still exploring fabrics for the shirt itself, but it will be made out of a stretchy and durable material.

Here is a mood/inspiration board:

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 2.33.12 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 2.32.28 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 2.31.54 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 2.32.52 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 2.32.06 PM

  1. What is the purpose of the artifact you are designing?

The purpose is to encourage body movement by having pleasant musical feedback. If people are incentivized by music, will they move more? This artifact will help to recreate the perception of our bodies when it’s seen as a tool to create what we hear. Listening to music is typically a passive experience with dancing as a result of the music. We are going to explore how one’s body moves if the movement, or “dance” comes first.

  1. Why does it exist?

Music is powerful in my ways. It can excite us, or calm us down. It even can help us remember, according to Michael Rossato-Bennett’s film, “Still Alive” that documents how music improves the lives of people with dementia. This would help music become more accessible, as it would essentially be apart of your body. Another important element of this object is that it would encourage people to move. With the evolution of technology, people are more sedentary than ever. According to James A. Levine, an obesity specialist at Mayo Clinic, “It’s the disease of our time. Any extended sitting can be harmful” (www.lifespanfitness.com).

  1. What will it DO? (How will it do it – but you can only answer this if you are clear about the rest of the answers)

As a person moves it will play parts of a song, or notes from a song, enabling a person to interact and recreate music with their bodies. It will have flex sensors in the shoulders of the shirt, which will be mapped to different samples of a song or notes. Each movement will have a corresponding sound.

  1. How does it work? Step-by-step – (you open a box, a drawer, you plug it in, you charge it, you press on a button to activate it or it is always on… etc
  • Put on the shirt.
  • Connect your phone using App via BLE to activate connection
  • Move and listen for music feedback 
  1. Why would someone want to use it? What do you add to their life? Remember that value is shared, applied based on some sort of value system onto objects. So think about communication, and shared values.

Humans love music. It can be personalized to fit their emotions, taste, or activity. We love alone through our headphones, or at large events with amplified sound. When we listen to music we tend to move, but not everyone is comfortable with dancing or using their body to express their feelings. This wearable would combine an interactive experience with music, in which a person has control of what their hearing, the natural impulse to move, with the encouragement to use their body as a tool to personalize their musical experience. It can be a shared experience as well either with a performance or by two people creating a music with together.

  1. What is your anchor?

The key idea is that we love music and need to move more. With this wearable the movement controls the music, rather than the other way. It gives people the chance to express how they want to interact with the music they hear through their bodies.

  1. Describe in 1 paragraph your project

We will be creating a shirt that has flex or bend sensors in the shoulders. In possible later iterations, we will have sensors in the elbows and wrists. The sensors will be mapped to sounds of music programmed in a mobile device via BLE. Our main demographic of users people interested in increasing their awareness of their body movements and encouraging those to move more.

Next steps:

-Explore different bend and flex sensors



-Create soft bend sensors


-Exploring and research movements

-Research and understand stretching limitations

-Explore different elements of sounds, i.e, will the pitch or tempo change by movement?








Reflection on readings

Again I am drawn to this new perspective that textiles are technology. Although we went over this in the first week, I’m still so fascinated and inspired by this. This quote from “The Hand-Helds” put everything into a clear site, “The device on which you’re reading this essay is technology, but so is whatever you’re wearing” (Chaplin). In some ways this is a lesson on gratitude and simplicity. There is so much technology everywhere, and some of the most successful pieces of technology have become so seamlessly integrated into our lives that their innovation is overlooked. Through wearable technology we have the choice to design things that are obtrusive or unobtrusive to our lives. That choice alone impacts so much on my thinking, in that it shows how powerful wearables can be.